Session 7 - Content Creation and Working with Authors (June 2021 Cohort)

Hello, @june21-cohort! Tomorrow we’re going discuss creating different kinds of OER content and considerations to keep in mind. I know many of you have been eager to talk about the content creation portions of this work. We’ll talk about writing for your learner audience, structural elements of textbooks, and the documentation and workflow to help support your team of authors through the process.

As always, you can access the handouts and slides:

  1. Handout: Content Creation and Working with Authors
  2. Slides: Content Creation and Working with Authors

Let me know if you have any questions. See you all tomorrow!


Hello, @june21-cohort! Thanks for the great discussion during our Week 7 session on content creation. Here’s the chat transcript. It was great to hear your thoughts about how you might approach creating content that will be used by multiple audiences. We also talked a bit about pedagogical devices that you might use in your resources to help readers engage with the content and check their understanding. We’ll revisit this in our next session when we discuss interactive elements like h5p and other ancillary materials. There was also a great question about making your own versions of tables, figures, images, and other similar items that you find in another resource rather than using the original and providing attribution. As I mentioned, this gets a bit tricky and will have to be judged on a case-by-case because it gets into questions of fair use/fair dealing and “originality” requirements as defined by copyright law. Monica shared the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Open Educational Resources, which is a really helpful resource for navigating some of these fair use/fair dealing questions. I also encourage you to leverage the expertise at your institutions or within your professional circles for some additional guidance as copyright questions arise.


Content creation is one of the most important stages in the process, as this is where subject-matter experts put together the bulk of the resource. Regardless of whether you are a solo author or working in a team, the work you do in this phase can make the next phases of editing, review, and formatting much easier. Organization will be easier if you’re a solo author, but you will want to explicitly solicit feedback or review comments to bring other perspectives to the mix. Conversely, small and large teams will have a varied mix but may require more management to keep everyone on schedule. Documentation, templates, agreements and clear workflows will help keep things consistent across different sections of the book. The author guide in particular will be the cheat-sheet for contributors. It’s worth noting that with a large team of authors, you may not need the voice to be identical throughout. Ultimately, what you have is a collaboratively authored resource, full of interesting, original, diverse perspectives, and that can be very important to highlight!

Providing your authors with a clear structure or pattern for their sections can help ensure some uniformity throughout the book. Keep in mind that the body of the book is where the bulk of the content will be added; frontmatter and backmatter sections can be added in later phases to round out the resource. Get started by running through your Table of Contents with the authoring team and identify areas of overlap. This process can determine when concepts will be introduced, making it easier to construct each section. Before writing, decide exactly how elements will be laid out in the section, using the pattern of openers, body of the section (with multiple integrated pedagogical devices), and closers (take a look at the Open Education Network’s list of each). Compare this layout with traditional textbooks, work with instructional designers, and test it out visually in a model chapter on your publishing platform. If you’re including interactive or multimedia content in your text, be sure to provide an overview of any special tools used to your authors. Identify areas relating to accessibility and formatting that could begin at the same time as writing, and include them in your author guide. This will help you more easily work through the remaining phases in the publishing process, as you’re setting up for future tasks.

With all this set, you are ready to begin writing! Keep in mind some considerations as you go, and remember that you will continue to refine drafts during editing and review. Writing can take place over a long period, so do what you can to continuously engage and motivate all the authors on your team.

Next Session

As I mentioned, our next session will focus on creating ancillary materials (including interactive ones like H5P) as well as the basics of the editing process. Please note: We will not be meeting next week. Our next session will be on Tuesday, August 3. As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask (and to respond to each other when you have something to add). Take care!

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